Cubans react to Biden’s reversal of some Trump policies

On the ground in Cuba, people like Abdel Legra, an activist who is critical of the government say some of the policies are welcomed.

MIAMI – On Monday, President Joe Biden’s administration announced a series of measures they believe will “increase support for the Cuban people and safeguard our national security interests.”

On the ground in Cuba, people like Abdel Legra, an activist who is critical of the government, said he welcomed some of the policies. He said the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, was necessary.

The U.S. will be increasing consular service capacity in order to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which allows certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for their family members in Cuba. The U.S. is also allowing Cuban-Americans to send more money to relatives on the island.

Manuel Morua, a Cuban dissident, said the most important policy changes are related to the access to U.S. dollars through remittances. Under President Donald Trump, there was a $1,000 limit per quarter.

The changes in the U.S. travel policy allow commercial flights to land in other cities beyond Havana. Both Legra and Morua were concerned over the possibility that some of these policies still benefit the Cuban government.

Cuba remains in a deep economic crisis. Most critics say the inefficient centralized economy and the pandemic are to blame. The historic protests last July were a sign of desperation.

Elements all play a part in the ongoing record-breaking Cuban migration which Nicaragua is facilitating by allowing Cubans to leave the island and get to the U.S. Mexico border.

“Migration numbers that are on pace to outstrip the total scale of the Mariel boatlift of 1980. It stands to reason that the United States is gonna try to respond in some way,” said Michael Bustamante, a University of Miami professor.

Andy Gomez, a former University of Miami professor, said the current Cuban migration crisis prompted the Biden administration to undo some of Trump’s policies.

“I think it’s a result or a reaction to the large numbers of migrants, Cuban migrants that we have seen. They tell me this is not in the long run gonna help them or the Cuban economy or the situation. They still see no future for them on the island, their goal is to get out of there as soon as possible,” Gomez said.

The Cuban government called the change a limited step in the right direction.

The decision does not modify the U.S. embargo, the fraudulent inclusion of Cuba in the list of countries who sponsor terror, nor the majority of the coercive actions of maximum pressure by the Trump administration which still affect the Cuban people, according to Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez..

Gomez believes the policy shift may be too late to stop the attempted mass migration at the border by the island’s young people.

“They tell me this is not, in the long run, going to help them or the Cuban economy or the situation. They still see no future for them on the island, their goal is to get out of there as soon as possible,” Gomez said.

US officials haven’t announced whether or not Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela will be invited to the next Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.